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— A total of 225 toys will be distributed to 120 children in 46 families, thanks to a toy drive sponsored by the Northside Elementary School gifted and talented students.

The students worked with the Ozark Guidance Center to hold the toy drive for the annual Christmas Assistance Program. The program provides Northside Elementary School studentsin need, and their siblings, with Christmas presents including a winter outfit and a toy. It also provides their families with the groceries for a Christmas dinner.

“The results of this toy drive far exceeded expectations, and I want everyone to know how much their generosity is appreciated and how much the children who receive the gifts will benefit this Christmas,” family resource coordinator Allie Elliot said in an e-mail.

This year, the Christmas Assistance Program didn’t have the funding it has had in the past, she said. A grant from Walmart helped buy the winter clothes, but there wasn’t enough money for the toys.

The gifted and talented students took on the toy drive as a class project. The seven students called Decatur businesses and ask for permission to place toy drop boxes inside the establishments. They decorated and wrapped the toy drop boxes, picked up they toys and wrapped the gifts.

“I definitely want to thank the community for joining with us and helping make this a success,” said gifted and talented teacher Andrea VanSant. The middle school student council also donated a lot of toys for the project, she said.

Organizing the toy drive fits right in with the gifted and talented program by nurturing the students’ leadership skills and helping them learn to contribute to the community, VanSant explained.

“The best part was helping kids get at least one toy on Christmas. I want to know that they got a smile when they got a toy ... Also that somebody gets the toy I wrapped and loves it a lot,” fourth grade student Payton Sargent wrote in a report.

Sargent helped by calling businesses to organize drop-off locations.

“The toy drive was really fun. The best part was the fun of wrapping the presents. It was important because other people don’t get presents,” fourth grade student Jordan Johnson wrote.

Third grade student Devon Presley did a good job of summing up the project: “The best part is when all the kids are happy,” he wrote.

News, Pages 1 on 12/23/2009

Print Headline: Children share in giving

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